Critical Theory and Political Possibilities: Conceptions of Emancipatory Politics in the Works of Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, and Habermas

By Joan Alway | Go to book overview
Save to active project

Chapter 1
The Marxian Emancipatory Vision and the Problem of Revolutionary Agency

As the bourgeoisie has the intellectual, organisational and every other advantage, the superiority of the proletariat must lie exclusively in its ability to see society from the centre, as a coherent whole. This means that it is able to act in such a way as to change reality, in the class consciousness of the proletariat theory and practice coincide and so it can consciously throw the weight of its action onto the scales of history--and this is the deciding factor.

Georg Lukács History and Class Consciousness, 69

The revolutionary agency of the proletariat has been an article of faith among Marxists and is the cornerstone of the Marxian emancipatory vision. Through reference to Marx's own work, the debates within the Second International, and Lukács History and Class Consciousness, I will identify and discuss the contours and ambiguities of this vision. We will find that as Marx's theoretical formulations became matters of practical political concern, the proletariat's role became increasingly problematic and subject to debate. In contrast to those who downplayed the significance of the proletariat in these debates, Lukács will insist on the proletariat's role as the "identical subject-object" of history. At the same time his analysis almost completely precludes the proletariat's ability to become conscious of its role. In effect, Lukács both deifies and debilitates the proletariat as revolutionary subject. It is this problematic that will carry us forward into the work of the critical theorists.


MARX AND THE PROLETARIAT

Marx's project is just one of many attempts to make sense of history. The

-11-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
Loading One moment ...
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Critical Theory and Political Possibilities: Conceptions of Emancipatory Politics in the Works of Horkheimer, Adorno, Marcuse, and Habermas
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

While we understand printed pages are helpful to our users, this limitation is necessary to help protect our publishers' copyrighted material and prevent its unlawful distribution. We are sorry for any inconvenience.
Full screen
/ 174

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.

Are you sure you want to delete this highlight?